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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 21 February, 2020

Kildare/Wicklow Education and Training Board office raided by gardaí

The Comptroller and Auditor General published an audit into the board’s financial statements yesterday.

The State watchdog reported breaches in procurement guidelines and other criticisms of governance at the training board.
The State watchdog reported breaches in procurement guidelines and other criticisms of governance at the training board.
Image: Screengrab/Kildare/ Wicklow ETB website

THE OFFICES OF the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) in Naas were raided yesterday by gardaí. 

In a statement to, the gardaí said: 

“The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, with the assistance of detectives attached to the Kildare Division yesterday conducted a number of searches of premises in the Kildare area in relation to an ongoing investigation into certain matters.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, no further details will be released at this time.”

The Garda raid follows on from the publication of an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General on the financial statements of KWETB for the year-end 2015.

Audit report 

The audit published by the State’s spending watchdog yesterday “identified concerns about procurement, project cost overruns and propriety matters”. 

It also found “expenditure by KWETB in 2015 at a five-star hotel and golf resort appears excessive, with no evidence of any attempts to achieve value for money for the service procured”.

The audit also found there were weaknesses in KWETB’s procurement processes, where 
contracts were awarded to a firm with connections to the (then) chief executive. These connections were not disclosed, according to the C&AG.

KWETB also rented an industrial property in 2015 which was subsequently partially licensed to the same firm connected to the then chief executive.

“There was inadequate documentation of the on-licensing arrangements — rent and service costs were only paid to KWETB after concerns were raised by the audit,” said the C&AG.

KWETB also disposed of a van in January 2017, but received no payment until after audit queries were raised. In addition, a full year’s motor tax was paid by KWETB just before the disposal occurred.

The audit also found that poor contract management practice contributed to additional costs of €483,000 regarding the construction of Arklow Community College.

The audit followed on from a formal query on these matters being issued to KWETB in June 2017.

The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General said in its report that the information and supporting documentation provided by KWETB in response to their query was “inadequate”. 

Last year, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau was asked to investigate occurrences at the training board.

The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee was told last year that Dr Richard Thorn’s report into the board was strongly critical of former KWETB chief executive Sean Ashe, and raised a number of concerns around past tendering and public procurement procedures at the body.

The Thorn investigation found what it calls “inconsistencies” surrounding procurement of some works.

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